When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by westmeadboy » Sat, 10 Apr 2010 05:40:15 GMT

Sponsored Links
 What's the best way to deal with the situation where your paid app has
been posted on a forum?

One of my paid apps was posted on PP****ez (real name withheld because
I'm not that keen on giving them publicity). There are loads of
Android apps posted there...

The apk is hosted on  http://www.megaupload.com  and  http://depositfiles.com 
which both provide links for "Report Abuse".

When you follow these links they ask for all sorts of personal details
which I can understand the need for but am, of course wary of giving.

Any thoughts?


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by JP » Sat, 10 Apr 2010 12:28:23 GMT

 My apps are using web based feeds, i.e. have to be online. This allows
me to inconspicuously reach back to a web site which I maintain that
controls a remote "kill switch" on a released-version basis. Research
the developers' forum for the "kill switch" and you can find some
sample code.
I haven't had to pull it yet, but if this a model that applies to your
app, you could pull it from time to time to take out old versions and
steer pirated installations towards your distribution channel. Users
that stay on top of release cycles will not notice anything.
Another possible mitigation would be to limit the publication of the
app to developed countries where chances are lower that pirates find
it worthwhile to pull it and dabble it off for a few bucks. Best use
some form of analytic engine like Flurry to find out where your sales
are coming from.


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When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Craigo » Sat, 10 Apr 2010 17:16:13 GMT

 I saw my game get pirated.  I noticed once it hit one pirate site, it
quickly spread across all these other pirate sites / forums / file
share sites / ...

I waited about 1 week for it to spread across all the pirate sites.  I
then released a new version of the game pointing to a new URL (my game
is a network car racing game).  I then waited a further 2 weeks (to
allow the real users to update) before sending the kill command back
with the old URL (which tells the user to update their version).

Now when you google my game, it is very hard to find the latest copy,
as the search results are littered with the old version.

Seems to have done the job ok.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Abdul Mateen » Sun, 11 Apr 2010 05:37:59 GMT

Little personal are you making sufficient revenue from your game, if you
donot mind can you share the numbers?


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Craigo » Sun, 11 Apr 2010 06:54:30 GMT

 Yes, I'm very happy with the revenue.  The game was just a side
project for me, and it's brought in over $4,000 USD in 4 months.  Made
me make plans to program another one!  :-)

> >

When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Abdul Mateen » Sun, 11 Apr 2010 11:27:39 GMT

 I am also planning to push few apps and games, you have made me motivated
for that.

Thank you,
Abdul Mateen.

> > >

When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Tauno Talimaa » Sun, 11 Apr 2010 15:30:20 GMT

 Just a question - why are you just disabling the game for the pirates?
I mean - they screwed with you - you have the moral right to screw
with them in my opinion. The good thing about Android is that the
platform is really open - imagine all the possibilities you have (you
have access to sms/contacts/opening webpages/ringtones/battery
usage/alarms etc etc..). But of course, don't do any of this if you
are not 100% sure that the app is an illegal copy ;)


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Nathan » Mon, 12 Apr 2010 07:15:26 GMT


Please consult your own legal counsel before doing anything malicious
in your software, regardless of the moral justification.

Should it come to court for computer hacking, the fact that someone
had unlicensed software may not be relevant if *your* software caused
them harm.

And you aren't likely to be 100% sure about an illegal copy being
accessed intentionally. A bootleg copy can be hotlinked in a
legitimate forum, and people can honestly assume it was a trial or
free version.

Besides the legal liability, think of potential damage to your
reputation. When its posted all around the internet about your
software being malicious, don't count on people mentioning that they
didn't pay for it. And if they report it to Google, if Google cares at
all, they may not know or care if the software was obtained illegally,
since it will be signed by your key after all.

Given all that, I think the most effort should be devoted to making
sure the illegitimate copies don't work. Let the forums be full of
frustrated users that can't get the supposedly cracked version to work
properly. Then the hacker's reputation suffers. Maybe some will be so
frustrated they will actually fork over a few bucks for the real thing
- well, one could hope, anyway.



When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by JP » Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:55:33 GMT


There is no malice, this is what the app does. I am even posting this
in the SLA, in functional terms adding to the usual language re:
indemnification and so forth. Users play at their own risk.
Users who had bought the app through Android Market are not affected.
Everyone else is invited to purchase the app IAW the license
agreement, see below.

Remote "kill switch" explained: If implemented as proposed, it opens
the web browser with a dev-determined URL. On this web site, the dev
can explain what it's all about and invite interested users to
purchase the app through a legitimate channel.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by Nathan » Tue, 13 Apr 2010 01:58:56 GMT


I was referring to Tauno's ideas, not yours. I'm all for the Kill-
Switch idea and will likely do it. Thanks for sharing.



When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by westmeadboy » Tue, 13 Apr 2010 02:10:45 GMT

 I like the kill-switch idea too.

Depending on the type of app, I would go a bit further and let the
pirated copy circulate for a month or two. If its a good app then
people will like it and use it and when they suddenly find the app
killed (with a convenient button taking them to your paid app on the
Market) they might just consider buying it.

Also, the more people happily using the pirated version, the more your
app will get known (though both pirate and legit channels).

Furthermore, the longer waiting period will mean less legit users are
caught by the kill switch.

So I say, let the pirates spread the love for longer and then kill the
love once they are hooked.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by westmeadboy » Thu, 15 Apr 2010 00:17:13 GMT

 There's some interesting stuff from Saurik about piracy here:


Essentially, he's suggesting that the remote kill switch is not a very
good idea...  Instead, he suggests a one time message to the user but
allowing them to continue using the app.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by JP » Thu, 15 Apr 2010 02:47:11 GMT


Technically, this is as simple as commenting out a call to
Activity.finish() after an engaged "kill switch" is being detected.
Now your users look at a nag screen (to help out with some parlance
Devs will want to weight what fits their style and aspirations, user
expectations, life cycle of the app and so forth. For an app with a
relatively short life cycle for earning some half decent money, as
Craigo's app seems to be, the full-on disabling of older versions
would probably be the way to go. Rinse, repeat for the next app if
you're inclined to roll another one.

Reading the blog... where Saurik " basically told them that there was
no solution to piracy". That of course is not the case. There are
solutions, question is, how far a dev feels comfortable with
inconveniencing paying customers with their particular solution.
Remember Dongles? Super effective, but a PIA. Similar things can be
said about  DRMed AAC's.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by westmeadboy » Thu, 15 Apr 2010 02:52:59 GMT

 Generally agree with you there.

But I would say, its worth bearing in mind, that pissing off pirates
might cause more trouble than its worth. Especially since they could
probably find a way to flood your app with bad ratings.

For me, I think it would be enough to show a dialog at each start up,
saying "expired" with a button taking them to the Market (but allowing
them to dismiss and continue using the app). This has the added
advantage that a paid user will not get caught out while offline.


When someone posts your paid app on a forum

by JP » Thu, 15 Apr 2010 03:19:53 GMT


Always a concern. For which that "Spam" feature can be used, I
suppose. Which of course is far from ideal, but better than nothing. I
guess, the motto here would be: find the end of the line of all the
requested improvements of Android Market... Can you see it? It's way
back there... No, Sir, like *way* back there...

Lastly, the pop-up display does not have to, or should, make any
mention of piracy. A dev's desire to not be hassled with support for
older versions that are floating around is one good reason. The
resulting request (in housebroken terms, of course) to update the app
through the dev's channels of choice - what coincidence - should be
enough of a disguise here, and I am sure with some creativity, some
other good reasons can be found. Remember these apps go for like,
what, $2.99 or less, a pop? This (cough) is not the kind of money
you'd see supporting, say older versions of [fill in RDBMS of choice],
because your enterprise customers are slow migrating to your new


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